Freemasonry means different things to each of those who join. For some, it's about making new friends and acquaintances. For others its about being able to help deserving causes - making a contribution to family and society. But for most, its an enjoyable hobby.
Freemasonry is one of the World's oldest and largest non-religious, non-political, fraternal and charitable organisations. It teaches self-knowledge through participation in a progression of ceremonies. Members are expected to be of high moral standing and are encouraged to speak openly about freemasonry.
Any man who is at least 21, is law-abiding, of good character and acknowledges a belief in God, can become a Freemason. Freemasonry is a multi-racial and multi-cultural organisation, the order is not restricted to Protestants: it is open to all men of all faiths, such as Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs. Contrary to popular belief, the Order has many Roman Catholics in its membership.
The meeting, which like those of other groups, is open only to members and is normally in two parts.
First, there are normal administrative procedures such as:
Second, there are the ceremonies for:
Most Lodges meet formally six or seven times a year, in addition to which are management meetings and rehearsals, together with a variety of social activities, many of which include members' partners and families.
Freemasons do not swear allegiances to each other or to Freemasonry. Freemasons make solemn promises concerning their conduct in the Lodge and in society. These promises are similar to those taken in court or upon entering the armed services or many other organisations. They also promise to keep confidential the traditional methods of recognition, which are only used within a Lodge or when visiting a Lodge where the Mason is not known. They should not be used outside a Lodge or disclosed to the public.
Definitely not, but lodge meetings, like those of many other groups, are private and open only to members. The rules and aims of Freemasonry are available to the public.
Freemasons are encouraged to speak openly about their membership, while remembering that they undertake not to use it for their own or anyone else's advancement. As members are sometimes the subject of discrimination which may adversely affect their employment or other aspects of their lives, some Freemasons are understandably reticent about discussing their membership. In common with many other national organisations, Grand Lodge neither maintains nor publishes a list of members and will not disclose names or member's details without their permission.
The rules and aims of Freemasonry are available to the public. The Masonic Year Book, also available to the public, contains the names of all national office-holders and lists of all lodges with details of their meeting dates and places.
The meeting places and halls used by Freemasons are readily identifiable, are listed in telephone directories and in many areas are used by the local community for activities other than Freemasonry. Freemasons' Hall in London is open to the public and 'open days' are held in many provincial centres.
The rituals and ceremonies used by Freemasons to pass on the principles of Freemasonry to new members were first revealed publicly in 1723. They include the traditional forms of recognition used by Freemasons essentially to prove their identity and qualifications when entering a Masonic meeting. These include handshakes which have been much written about and can scarcely be regarded as truly secret today; for mediaeval Freemasons, they were the equivalent of a 'pin number' restricting access only to qualified members.
Freemasonry is secular, ie non-religious, but it encourages all its members, who are required to believe in God, to follow their own faith and to be active in their own Churches or other places of worship. Lodge meetings are opened and closed with prayers, as are the daily sessions of the House of Commons, but discussion of religion, and indeed politics, is prohibited at Lodge meetings.
Freemasonry is system of morality and the rituals depict truths veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols. It is open to each Freemason to speculate on the meanings of the rituals with regard to his own morals and to whatever extent his mind is capable of such interpretation.
Certainly not, members must never use their Freemasonry as a means of gaining preferment for themselves or any other person. Any attempt to do so could, and does, result in expulsion from membership. At various stages during the three ceremonies of his admission and when he is presented with a certificate from Grand Lodge that the admission ceremonies have been completed, he is forcefully reminded that attempts to gain preferment or material gain for himself or others is a misuse of membership which will not be tolerated.
Freemasons take an active role in the community, such as voluntary work, and donate substantial sums of money each year from their own pockets to many charitable causes not connected with Freemasonry. The Masonic Province of Worcestershire donates about £90,000 each year to non-Masonic charities, whilst individual Freemasons and lodges also donate substantial sums.
Freemasonry, as a body, will never express a view on politics or state policy. The discussion of politics at Masonic meetings has always been prohibited.
Freemasonry exists throughout the world. However, each Grand Lodge is sovereign and independent. There is no international governing body for freemasonry.
Yes. Whilst UGLE, following the example of medieval stonemasons, is, and has always been, restricted to men, women freemasons have two seperate Grand Lodges, which are restricted to women.
Wearing regalia is historic and symbolic. Like a uniform, the regalia indicates the rank of the wearer in the organisation.
There are about 250,000 Freemasons in England and Wales, with some 4,500 in this Province. The Grand Lodge of England is the supreme authority for Freemasonry in the two countries, which are divided into 47 Provinces, of which Worcestershire is one, and a Metropolitan District in London. Grand Lodge is presided over by the Grand Master, currently HRH the Duke of Kent, and head of a Province is the Provincial Grand Master. The Provincial Grand Master for Worcestershire at present is Robert Vaughan. The basic unit in Freemasonry is the Lodge, whose head is the Worshipful Master, elected each year by the members, and assisted by a team of officers including Wardens, a Treasurer and a Secretary.
Basic Freemasonry consists of the three 'Craft' degrees (Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason), which may be completed by the Royal Arch (Chapter). (It is not compulsory to be a Royal Arch Mason). There are many other Masonic degrees and Orders which are called 'additional' because they add to the basis of the Craft and Royal Arch. They are not basic to Freemasonry but add to it by further expounding and illustrating the principles stated in the Craft and Royal Arch.
To the majority of Freemasons the volume of the Sacred Law is the Bible. There are many in Freemasonry, however, who are not Christian and to them the Bible is not their sacred book and they will make their promises on the book which is regarded as sacred to their religion. The Bible is always present in an English Lodge but as the organisation welcomes men of many different faiths, it is called the Volume of the Sacred Law. Thus, when the Volume of the Sacred Law is referred to in ceremonies, to a non-Christian it will be the holy book of his religion and to a Christian it will be the Bible. The VSL must always be open when the Lodge is open.
Freemasonry embraces all men who believe in God. Its membership includes Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Parsees and others. The use of descriptions such as the Great Architect prevents disharmony. The Great Architect is not a Masonic god nor an attempt to combine all gods into one. Thus, men of differing religions pray together without offence being given to any of them.
It varies from Lodge to Lodge. Anyone wishing to join will find a Lodge to suit his pocket. There is an initiation fee on entry and in due course regalia will have to be bought. The meeting is normally followed by a dinner, the cost depending on the venue. There is, in addition, an annual subscription.
Members are invited to give to charity but this should always be within their means and its is entirely up to the individual how much they wish to contribute.